Houston students recognized for attending leadership event

July 24, 2013 

Every summer, students from around the state gather at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards to learn more about themselves and others as they focus on becoming leaders and serving their communities.

The Rotary Club of Centerville sent two young people to the awards event, which was held June 20-23 at South Georgia College.

Rising seniors Jenny Burkhardt, from Warner Robins High School, and Autumn Foss, from Houston County High School, attended the event, representing both their schools and the Centerville Rotary club. The two girls were recently recognized at the club’s weekly meeting.

According to the introduction given by Centerville Rotary Club President Kenny Kitchens, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards was created as an event to showcase the achievements of local youth in Australia in 1959.

Since then, it has evolved into one of the ways Rotary International achieves its goal of developing both the self-confidence and leadership of young people.

The girls’ experience at the leadership awards event was the focus of the club’s meeting July 16, and both Burkhardt and Foss spoke about it.

Speakers and classes at the leadership awards event ranged from understanding diversity to determination and perseverance. Bill Borden, the first person from Georgia to finish the Iditarod race, was the leadership awards event’s introductory speaker.

“He talked about his faith and his struggle. He encouraged us to do things that might be out of our comfort zone because, as he told us, you can’t know where you are going to be in 5, 10, 20 years,” Burkhardt said.

She said that one of her favorite classes was one in which students focused on how to present a powerful initial meeting and then mapped out their lives, looking at significant events that had affected them.

“It was amazing to look back on my life and realize the small events that had spurred me toward where I am today,” she said.

Along with the classes, students attending had time for some fun activities and had social activities in the evenings.

“The coolest experience of this trip for me was hanging out with my group because we all bonded and became closer,” Foss said. “We talked a lot about our future plans and our goals and how to achieve them. It was a time for networking with others my age and a time to help me know myself better.”

“RYLA was an amazing experience,” Burkhardt said. “It sought out the qualities of leadership in all of its attendees, advancing us particularly in the areas of communication and enthusiasm.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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